I want to return today to this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision about whether it is constitutional for the town board of Greece, N.Y., to open its meetings with prayer, even if most of those prayers are offered in the Christian tradition.
I said here earlier this week that it was far from the worst decision the court has ever made, but I wish it had required the town council to be much more inclusive in its list of pray-ers. As things stand there it looks as if the town is promoting Christianity. And I think it sets a bad precedent.
What I encourage you to do, however, is to read some (or, heck, all) of the court's ruling here, including the dissents and the concurring opinions.
As someone who rarely reads court opinions, I found this one to be both encouraging and exemplary of how to disagree without being disagreeable.
The primary dissent came from Justice Elena Kagan, for instance, (you have to scroll down pretty far to find it) and although she was firm and even sharp in her language, she ultimately simply disagreed -- but not with the notion that prayer before such public governmental body gatherings is always wrong. As she writes:
"I respectfully dissent from the Court’s opinion because I think the Town of Greece’s prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality—the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian.
"I do not contend that principle translates here into a bright separationist line. To the contrary, I agree with the Court’s decision in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U. S. 783 (1983), upholding the Nebraska Legislature’s tradition of beginning each session with a chaplain’s prayer. And I believe that pluralism and inclusion in a town hall can satisfy the constitutional requirement of neutrality; such a forum need not become a religion-free zone."
At any rate, have a look at some of the language of the justices on both sides. Even if I think the court got it wrong in its 5-4 vote and some of the majority made odd arguments, I feel pretty good about how seriously the justices took the issue. And it makes me anxious to hear the decision in the still-undecided Hobby Lobby case.
(Today's image is borrowed from the Deseret News.)
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MUSLIM CONDEMNATION OF ABDUCTIONS
To people who already are griping that Muslims aren't condeming the abduction of all those school girls in Nigeria (#bringbackourgirls), yes, they are condemning the action. But, of course, it's easier to complain than to check the facts.